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Bail Bond Agent vs Bounty Hunter: What’s the Difference?

In the event that a defendant is not able to pay their set bail amount, many people turn to help from a bail bond agent. Bail bond agents enable defendants to await their court date outside of prison. If a defendant fails to show up for their court date, that is where a bounty hunter comes in.

Bail Bond Agent vs. Bounty Hunter

A bail bond agent and a bounty hunter are two complementary, but vastly different occupations. Bail bond agents or bail bondsman must work with bounty hunters in the event of a defendant jumping bail.

The relationship between the two parallels that of the law and order system. A bail bondsman is on the law side of things, whereas a bounty hunter is on the order side.

Bail bondsmen are subject to federal rules and regulations for ensuring a defendant’s bond with the court. Bounty hunters are subject to state laws concerning civil and criminal recovery of defendants.

Bail Bond Agency

A bail bond agent works between an office and the courts to post bail for accepted defendants. An agent can post different types of bail depending on the defendant’s situation. The bondsman is licensed by the state insurance department to post bail at a percentage fee.

A bail bond agent secures a co-signer, on behalf of the defendant, to approve the funds necessary for the defendant’s release. Either a family member or the defendant enters into a contract with the bail bondsman for a percentage fee of the original bail amount.

Bail bondsmen will travel to the holding cell or prison where a defendant is released from, but that is the extent of their leg-work.

Bail bond agents are entering into a contract with the state government-or a bond. They agree to post the bail amount in exchange for a non-refundable fee from the defendant. And in the event of a bail jumper, the bondsman is legally responsible for the total bail amount.

The agreement is satisfied when the bail bondsman delivers a defendant to court on the designated date and time. If the defendant doesn’t show up, the agent must deliver the entire bail amount to the court.

The bail bondsman is trusted by the courts, so the defendant must be trusted by the bail bondsman. But, not all defendants are trustworthy. If a defendant jumps bail the bondsman is authorized to detain and arrest the client.

Bounty Hunters

Bounty hunters or Fugitive Recovery Agents ensure the bail bondsman’s investment. A bail bond agent hires a bounty hunter to track down, arrest, and deliver a fugitive within the amount of time set by the court.

A bounty hunter specializes in tracking down and detaining fugitives. They are legally authorized by the court, through a bail bond agent.

Because the fugitive is in violation of court ruling, the bounty hunter may use extensive means to make the arrest. Recovery agents may have to break into the fugitives residence, and physical struggles are not uncommon.

For this reason, a fugitive recovery agent is trained very much like a police officer. They are typically required to have certifications and training in small firearms, hand and leg restraints, pepper spray, and taser suppressants. A bounty hunter must have strong hand-to-hand combat experience, as well.

Hunting for court bounty is a high-intensity, high-risk job. Recovery agents often have a strong background in military or law enforcement, and carry the corresponding trade tools. It is not uncommon to encounter resistance from fugitives, which is why many bounty hunters wear kevlar.

Bounty hunters are only paid if they deliver the fugitive back to court within the allotted time. For this reason, the occupation requires strong motivation and competentness.

Regulation and Rules for Fugitive Recovery Agents

Governmental entities refrain from regulating the manner in which bounty hunters can operate since the court is also dependent on the return of a fugitive. In essence, bounty hunters are given liberty to use any means under the law to detain a subject.

So, when under contract by a bail bond agent, bounty hunters retain all the privileges of a law enforcement official. The nature of the job lends towards an industry regulated by worker ability. In other words, if you aren’t especially suited for bounty hunting, you probably won’t go into it.

The few regulations that exist for becoming a bounty hunter in any state, include: Must be no younger than 18 years of age; must not be previously convicted of a felony; must provide character references; and must register with the states law enforcement agency.

Of course, it is worrisome to have deputized individuals wreaking havoc on local communities under the protection of state authority. Instances arise where bounty hunters use excessive force and dangerous means to make an arrest.

There are several court cases in which the courts ruled in favor of fugitives, alleging false imprisonment and acts of violence by a bounty hunter. In these instances, the bail bond agency is also implicated as culpable for employing the recovery agent.

Final Thoughts

There is a big difference between a bail bond agent and a bounty hunter, but they both work together. Bail bondsman provides an essential service to the legal system, while bounty hunters ensure the integrity of a clients agreement.

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